Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho's future is very much "in Liverpool's hands" according to the Reds' former director of football Damien Comolli, who believes the Merseysiders would find it "almost impossible" to replace the coveted playmaker this summer.
Jurgen Klopp reiterated Liverpool's stance regarding the situation surrounding Coutinho and a potential move to Barcelona on Monday (31 July), insisting the Brazil international would remain at Anfield this summer, but the Catalan giants are still believed to pursuing a move for the former Inter Milan starlet.
Latest reports suggest that Liverpool have rejected a second bid worth €100m (£89.3m, $118.25m) for Coutinho from Barcelona, who are scouring the market for a replacement for the Paris-Saint Germain bound Neymar.
Comoli, who spent around a year-and-a-half as a key component of the Anfield hierarchy between 2010 and 2012, thinks Klopp's side can continue to reject such gargantuan offers and would find Coutinho 'extremely difficult' to replace if they did decide to let him go to the Camp Nou.
"It would be extremely difficult, almost impossible, to replace Coutinho with a like-for-like player in terms of skills and knowledge of the Premier League," Comoli told talkSPORT.
"I don't think Liverpool can afford to sell him...but if they actually want to keep the player, I think they can say 'no'. The [financial] landscape has changed massively over the last 12 or 24 months in world football.
Comolli's most successful piece of business during his time as Liverpool's director of football was undoubtedly the purchase of Luis Suarez from Ajax. The Uruguay international spent three-and-a-half seasons on Merseyside before joining Barcelona in the summer of 2014, and Comolli revealed that he made his intention to sign for either Barca or Real Madrid very clear from the outset.
Liverpool cashed in on Suarez but the Premier League's current financial climate strengthens the Reds' stance over Coutinho. The 25-year-old may have designs on a move to Catalonia, but Comolli thinks Liverpool could still hold on to their prized asset even if he does see his future elsewhere.
"In the deal we had with Suarez, he told me one thing: 'If Real Madrid or Barcelona come for me, would you let me go?' However, because the Premier League has so much financial ability to resist any bid, I think if Liverpool want to say no, they say no.
"That's exactly what PSG did with Barcelona and Verratti. Barcelona had agreed a deal with Verratti, but they came to PSG and they said, 'absolutely no chance, the player is staying'. Liverpool don't need the money – no club in the Premier league needs the money because they're so much coming in from the TV rights.
"If the player wants to go to Barcelona and they feel they have agreed a deal, it doesn't mean much. The biggest hurdle is to agree a deal with Liverpool. It's still very much in Liverpool's hands.
"Honestly, even if the player wants to go, I think it's very, very possible for the club to keep him."